Now that the 2020 offseason has begun, following a second consecutive season in which they failed to even reach the playoffs, it’s time to take stock of where the Pittsburgh Steelers stand. Specifically where Steelers players stand individually based on what we have seen happen over the course of the past season, and with notice to anything that happens going forward.
A stock evaluation can take a couple of different approaches and I’ll try to make clear my reasonings. In some cases it will be based on more long-term trends, such as an accumulation of offseason activity. In other instances it will be a direct response to something that just happened. So we can see a player more than once over the course of the summer as we move forward.
Player: S Antoine Brooks
Stock Value: Down
Reasoning: Fewer reps will hurt all rookies, inevitably. As a late sixth-round pick, Antoine Brooks is not guaranteed to make the roster. Now, he may have two or even zero opportunities in the preseason to make an impact, with two safeties ahead of him as reserves who know the system.
I think that, by now, you have gotten a feel for the shape that this series is going to tape for the rest of the downtime before training camp. Since there isn’t much else to talk about, unless something else comes up specifically, we are going to be focusing on the impact of a truncated Summer offseason schedule on players, many of whom it will harm, though others it may benefit, at least in terms of their odds of keeping a roster spot or role.
As a late-round rookie, Antoine Brooks is inevitably harmed by the report that the preseason will be no more than two games long, and possibly none at all. A player like Tuzar Skipper last offseason, for example, needed all four games to state his case, and even then, he still got waived before the opener, even if he eventually found his way back to the 53-man roster by the end of the season.
Safety is a solid position for the Steelers at the top with Minkah Fitzpatrick and Terrell Edmunds, neither of whom are under any threat. Behind them are Jordan Dangerfield, who has been in Pittsburgh as long as any other defender short of Cameron Heyward and Vince Williams, and Marcus Allen, who has spent most of his career over the past two years on the 53-man roster, but all the same, knows the system.
While the Steelers talked Brooks up pretty well when he was drafted, and spoke specifically of the possibility of him playing a hybrid role, it’s important to remember that Tomlin has glowed about Allen in the past as well. After the 2019 NFL Draft, for example, he specifically mentioned him as a young player on the rise and talked about how he could potentially play that dimebacker role. Brooks may have to convince the team to carry five safeties, which isn’t incredibly unlikely, but nevertheless, the circumstances make his case a harder one to sell.